"Sex Offenders in School": Part 2

By: Associated Press and WTVY
By: Associated Press and WTVY

It's a startling reality - more than a third of sex crimes against kids under 18 are committed by their peers, be it because of peer pressure, a lack of adult supervision or simply the access to pornographic materials,
More than dozen students in Houston County may be classified as sex offenders in school.

"I'm seeing 15-16 year old guys acting out with 12-13 year old girls. I'm seeing 14-15 year old guys, because of the access to porn, acting out with 5 and 6 year old females," Dr. Tim Faulk, a licensed marriage and family therapist told us.

He went on to say, "If an 18 year old and a 15 year old are dating and have sex and she goes and tells her mom, even though she says it was consensual, he has broken the law and will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life."

So we asked parents about juvenile sex offenses…keep in mind, these are non-scientific poll results, but they still show a lack of knowledge across the board that could be leading to big trouble your child's classroom:

Nearly 75% of parents we surveyed said it was okay for a 15 year old to date a 17 year old, no questions asked. Only one parent said they would need to know the child and their family…Only three respondents said it was absolutely wrong…While only three others said either "until the older child turns 18" or cited the age of consent law.

"You have to be 16 to consent and there cannot be greater than a 2 year age difference," Dr. Faulk reminds us.

And dating-related sex offenses are just the tip of iceberg; electronic media and peer pressure are also combining in a dangerous way

"One in five kids between 13 and 19 has either sent or received some type of sexual image and about 39% have participated in sexting, that should wake a lot of parents up," he said.

"It's a growing problem, because what happens is with electronic cell phones, one forward is a violation, taking information from a computer to a cell phone, one friend sends to another it's a violation and they end up in big trouble because they simply don't know to send photos is inappropriate and a violation of law," Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Angela Underwood says.

And that seemingly innocent photo or text could not only brand you as a sex offender, it could also land you here - at Mt. Meigs, the State Department of Youth Services Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility, a facility, we were not allowed into, but have been told is a far cry from comfortable surroundings.

"It scares me immensely. I really dread to see where we'll be as a society in 10 years if we continue at this rate,"says Dr. Faulk.

"Parents need to exercise their authority to be involved. If that means being nosy, do it. They need to know sites their children are surfing, know about sexting, texting, who their child is involved with, know the associations," Angela says.

"There is not a 14, 15, 16 year old guy or gal for that matter, that's going to want their parent so involved in their life and my advise is to get over it - that's what parents are for," says Dr. Faulk.

The silver lining to this story is that the vast majority of these offenders can be rehabilitated without being added to the publically available sex offender database. Those we spoke with say fewer than 5 percent will re-offend if they actively participate in therapy, have parents who are actively involved in their lives and set personal boundaries.

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